Server 2012 to replace SBS2003 - help needed

Hi Guys,

I really need some help here.

We have a client who uses Windows 2003 SBS for file / printer sharing, Exchange and Domain Controller duties.  We're at the point now where the server is starting to creak and we're planning replacing it with a more modern equivalent.

The client has 50 seats, with perhaps 20 users who connect up and use Outlook Web Access and iPhone (via the same).  To use Outlook these external users are currently connecting using the SBS2003 VPN setup, then onto the Exchange Server.  I know we can use Outlook over RPC however this just never worked - hence the VPN.

I've had a look into what is possible with 2012 Server - it seems that the modern version of SBS is called Server 2012 Essentials however its only available up to 25 users.  Panic.

I'm I right to assume that I'd need to buy 2012 Server (standard), then Exchange and build it all together?  Would this give me connectivity to "The Cloud" or Office 365 as its known and how about backing up - can I use Azure (and how)?

What about the migration route from SBS2003 to 2012 - is it as hellish as SBS2003 > SBS 2007?

The Microsoft propaganda advertising is difficult to decipher and belive.  We need a reliable, low admin solution which is cost effective.

Whats my best option?
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David AtkinConnect With a Mentor Technical DirectorCommented:
SBS 2011 is still available although it is on the way out.  Comes with Exchange 2010 as well so its probably going to be the most cost effective solution.  If you where going to do this though you would have to think about how much the company will expand in the next 5-10 years as the SBS also has a limit of 75 Users/Devices.

If you think you are going to go above that then Server 2012 Standard with Exchange 2013 may be your better option.  It will cost you more money though.

Do you have a budget in mind for the work?
Jock_ScotlandAuthor Commented:
Thanks for that, I think at this point in time it would not be good business sense to buy into a product which has been superseded however I take your point.

We don't have a budget as I have been asked to explore the costs involved first.  Would I be better going for a fully hosted Exchange solution (like Office 365) instead - and forget about the internal server?
David AtkinTechnical DirectorCommented:
Again this would really depend on how much you would like to spend and how you would like it managing.

With an on-site Exchange server you have full control over the server.  I don't know if this is the case with the Office 365 accounts, I think you are more restricted.  I only have one customer with Office 365 and they don't have it linked in with a server...yet ;-).

Eventually everything is going to be in the cloud.  Personally I like having the server on site but then you have additional costs of backing it up, hardware and admin management etc.

I will let someone else reply who has office 365 but will monitor the question.

P.S. I can understand the comments about SBS 2011.  I seriously hate that Microsoft are ditching it.
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Larry Struckmeyer MVPCommented:
SBS 2011 has a support life until 2018 or 2020 depending on what you read.  For the costs involved this is by far the most cost effective solution.  Hosted exchange for 50 users over this time period will be "about" $500/mo (50 x $10)  SBS is less than $1K plus $60 per user over 5.

I would give the cost breakdown to the business decision makers and let them decide.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I agree with fl_Flyfishing - you need to put together a cost breakdown and show what your costs are.
I too am considering the sbs2003 to either sbs2011 or 2012 w/ Office365 (hosted email).  I ran some prelim cost and came up with the minimum already mentioned above but I added I.T. admin cost for outside consultant.  Our office on average use about 3 hours per month at $120/hr email related stuff.  At that rate over 5 years, I would need to add almost $22,000 to the 5-yr estimate for in-premise exchange.  Curious to know how much time it really takes to admin Exchange Online.  It sounds like a wash especially if you consider exchange online is available from any device (up to 5 per user I think) even if your office network is down.
Jock_ScotlandAuthor Commented:
We decided to install Server 2012 plus Exchange 2013 on Volume License.  The Internet connection at this site is rubbish so 365 is not a great option.  We'll keep the servers onsite and back them up to the cload - somehow feels "safer" than a full cloud solution.

Thanks to all.
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